On April 9, the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari gave pardon to 2500 prisoners in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pardon includes prisoners aged over 60 and those suffering from severe health conditions. Whilst IHRC welcomes this humanitarian move, we also note that Sheikh Zakzaky and Muallima Zeenah, who are both over 60 and in severe health conditions were not released.
The Sheikh and his wife have been kept in illegal detention for over four years now in what’s been described as an abomination of justice. The federal high court of Nigeria has repeatedly called for the release of the Sheikh and his wife including compensation to be paid. However, the state authorities have decided to prosecute the couple and imprison them in the Kaduna State prison where the conditions of living pose a threat for their physical and psychological wellbeing, especially in the current pandemic climate.
We are urging the Nigerian authorities to release Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife Muallima Zeenah, other members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and other political prisoners. Indeed the case for releasing many convicted prisoners is also overwhelming. This is a policy that needs to be implemented quickly in Nigeria, given the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
IHRC are calling upon campaigners to write to their country’s Nigerian ambassador / High Commissioner and copy in the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention demanding the Nigerian authorities order these releases immediately. A model letter is provided.
Dear [Insert Ambassador / High Commissioner’s name],
I am shocked to find that the Nigerian president’s amnesty on 9 April to 2500 prisoners did not include Sheikh El-Zakzaky and Muallima Zeenah and indeed other political and relevant prisoners.
Sheikh El-Zakzaky and Muallima Zeenah continue to be held in illegal detention despite a 2016 federal high court ruling their detention to be unlawful and unconstitional. I am writing to you to urge your government to release Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky, his wife Muallima Zeenah immediately. Their continued illegal detention in Kaduna State prison poses a high risk to their health especially in the current Corona virus climate.
This is a policy that needs to be implemented quickly in Nigeria not just for the Sheikh and his wife, who both have underlying health conditions, for all prisoners wherever possible for the sake of justice in these cases but also the sake of Nigerian society as a whole.
[Signed if posting]
Click on following link to find the name, address and contact details of the relevant diplomat in your country:
Selected names and email addresses of Ambassadors / High Commissioners can be found below. Please contact us info[AT]ihrc.org if you have trouble finding the details of your country.
Please remember to also cc/ in Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: firstname.lastname@example.org
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